Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-rvbq7 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-14T11:54:03.661Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Conrad's Personal Voice

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2024

Jolanta Dudek
Affiliation:
Jagiellonian University, Krakow
Andrzej Juszczyk
Affiliation:
Jagiellonian University, Krakow
Joanna Skolik
Affiliation:
Uniwersytet Opolski
Get access

Summary

While Zdzisław Najder's Joseph Conrad: A Life (1983, 2007) is widely acclaimed for the author's insights into Conrad's Polish background, his Conrad in Perspective: Essays on Art on Fidelity (1997) places Conrad's work within a broad European philosophical, historical, cultural and literary context. In my own work on Conrad I have found, and continue to find, both these books indispensable.

What is perhaps less known in Conrad studies is Najder's significant contribution to narrative analysis, not least the intersection between narrative analysis and reader response criticism. Highlighting this aspect of Najder's work, this essay will identify and discuss aspects of Conrad's “personal voice” in one of the author's most original works of fiction, Lord Jim (1900). My argument is that in this novel, a key text in the Conrad canon as well as in European modernism, Conrad's personal voice is identifiable in, and thus represented by, a unique combination of narrative agents and components that cumulatively serve to constitute the narrative communication of a remarkable literary text. By no means exhaustive, my discussion will assume the form of a commentary on three selected passages from the novel; these passages are, I argue, illustrative of different yet related aspects of Conrad's personal voice.

Najder uses the term “personal voice” in his essay in Joseph Conrad: Voice, Sequence, History, Genre (2008). That this volume is a contribution to the “Theory and Interpretation of Narrative” series published by The Ohio State University Press is in itself a strong indication of the chapter's pertinence to the study of narrative; moreover, “voice,” the first word of the subtitle, is a key narrative concept discussed not just by Najder but also by other contributors to the volume.

In his essay, which is the first chapter of the abovementioned book, Najder calls for more critical attention to the ways in which “the personal voice in Conrad's fiction” engages the reader of Lord Jim. Taking his cue from the much-discussed contrast between the third-person narrative of the novel's first four chapters and the “personalized knowledge” of Marlow and his interlocutors that the reader encounters from chapter 5 onwards, Najder's discussion invites the reader to reflect on the dual roles of first-person narrators (as tellers and characters).

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Jagiellonian University Press
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×